Sun, 11 Apr 2021

A court in the Russian city of Vladimir has sentenced a man to three years in prison on a criminal charge of attacking a police officer during January 23 rallies in support of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.

The Lenin district court in Vladimir, 200 kilometers east of Moscow, on March 5 found Vitaly Timofeyenko guilty of using pepper spray against a police officer during the dispersal of the demonstrators.

Timofeyenko admitted to using the spray, but said he did so to help another protester who was being held on the ground by the police.

Prosecutors had sought a prison term of five years for the defendant, in what is the second known criminal conviction for a participant in the January 23 pro-Navalny rallies across Russia.

On March 2, a 26-year-old resident of the Volga River city of Kostroma was sentenced to 18 months of forced labor for attacking a police officer in a similar rally on January 23.

The nationwide demonstrations held on January 23 and January 31 were against the arrest of the Kremlin critic, who was detained at a Moscow airport on January 17 upon his arrival from Germany, where he was recovering from a poison attack, which several European laboratories concluded was a military-grade chemical nerve agent, in Siberia in August 2020.

Navalny has insisted that his poisoning was ordered directly by President Vladimir Putin, which the Kremlin has denied.

Last month, a Moscow court ruled that while in Germany, Navalny had violated the terms of parole from an old embezzlement case that is widely considered as being politically motivated. Navalny's 3 1/2 year suspended sentence from the case was converted to a jail term, though the court said he will serve 2 1/2 years in prison given time he had been held in detention.

More than 10,000 supporters of Navalny have been detained across Russia during and after the January rallies. Many of the detained men and women were either fined or handed several-day jail terms At least 90 were charged with criminal misdeeds and several have been fired by their employers.

With reporting by MBKh Media and Mediazona

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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